Ecological disasters, like the acid leak that contaminated the Ashalim waterbed and the Trans-Israel pipeline oil spill that caused long-term damage to the Evrona Nature Reserve, have become somewhat commonplace, indicating a serious problem with the way that the business sector in Israel views and interacts with the local environment. Companies, factories, industrial parks and Government-owned business across the country often do not have the tools and awareness for how to manage their impact on the natural world around them.
As such, significant measures have been taken to safeguard Israeli nature, while also taking into account the rapid pace and dynamic growth of the Israeli business sector. Because state mandated regulations and conservation efforts sometime find themselves lacking the required means to independently support such efforts, nature protection organizations and activists often assist in providing the needed support.
Over the last several years the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA), has initiated and funded projects that promote the integration of nature protection values across Israel’s business sector, making significant strides with several corporations and businesses, including Tabor Wineries, Henson Cement Group, Israel Electric Company and many others.
This initiative has led to the development of a functional toolkit that enables companies to implement environmental guidelines, while still advancing their own business goals. A dedicated website was recently launched to enhance the toolkit, offering companies advanced digital tools, including:
a) A Geographic Information System (GIS) data engine which allows companies to upload the geographic location of their operations and immediately receive clear and detailed information regarding the level and scope of the site’s ecological vulnerability, including the existence of ecological corridors, nature reserves, streams, forests, etc. Companies are also alerted as to whether or not their sites are located in “hotspots” areas that are exceptionally rich in biodiversity.
b) Management and reporting software that allows companies to perform analyses regarding the impact of their businesses on ecology and biodiversity, and integrate the findings into the corporate responsibility reporting system, as per the Israeli Biodiversity Protocol. Utilizing a simple checklist, this tool provides a comprehensive overview of the company’s ecological impact.
c) Protocols and guidelines for implementation which help companies minimize their negative ecological impact, this collection of detailed specifications and guidelines includes:
- Instructions to prevent light pollution;
- Hygiene guidelines to prevent the outbreak of a phenomenon related to stray animals;
- Guidelines to keep invasive species from spreading and taking hold of new areas (especially significant in the infrastructure, quarries and agriculture sectors);
- Instructions on how to maintain ecological connectivity and avoid spatial fragmentation;
- Protocols on ecological gardening, mosquito pest control, coastal environment infrastructure management, and many more.
The business sector is a valuable partner in the effort to preserve and protect nature in Israel, so it is our hope that these newly accessible and easy to use tools will encourage additional companies to integrate nature protection values into their core business activity.